I arrived Brussels in end August 1987 to report for duty at our Embassy for Belgium which also doubled as our Permanent mission to the European Union, besides looking after matters relating to the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. I was brimming with the Allama Iqbal idea – the success of my project of establishing an Iqbal Cultural Centre at my last duty station, Damascus, had literally gone to my head. I had no idea how that obsession was going to play out in this quiet, little capital of Europe. It was some years after my assignment in Belgium ended that a non-profit organization by the name of Iqbal Foundation Europe was formally registered with the illustrious Annemarie Schimmel as its Founder-President. It’s the story of this Foundation that I wish to share with you in these few paragraphs, in the hope that it may generate some interest in a field that we have largely overlooked i.e. Public Diplomacy.
I was gripped by the Allama Iqbal idea at another duty station – Hanoi, while I was preparing to mark the Poet-Philosopher’s Centenary celebration. 9 November 1877 had been proposed as the definitive date of birth of Allama Iqbal by Prof Jan Marek of Charles University of Prague and which had been accepted by the Iqbal ‘establishment’ and the Centenary was being marked in Pakistan and world over in 1977. The Allama was completely unknown to the Vietnamese and there was no Pakistani or Muslim community in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (as North Vietnam was then known). I had to make several visits to their Foreign Ministry and to the Ministries of Culture and Information to tell them about the National Poet of Pakistan and talk about him as a progressive Asian Muslim thinker. To prepare myself for these meetings, I had to scrape deep inside my self to recall the little I had read of Iqbal’s poetry and prose as well as some articles distributed to all our Embassies by Islamabad. On the basis of the questions raised in my conversations at these places, I produced a write up on the Allama and had it translated into Vietnamese language. A press conference was arranged for 9 November 1977 where I spoke for some 30 minutes on the Allama to the audience of press persons, some diplomats and the Embassy staff. Next day, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nhan Dan (The People) carried an account of the event in which they extensively used my write up. The Allama Iqbal idea was born in Vietnam of that Cold War era. Pakistan needs overseas platforms to win friends and influence people to better compete in the global market of ideas and goods.
Some months after reaching Brussels, I took a train to Bonn and rang the door bell at 42, Lennastrasse. The door was opened by Annemarie Schimmel surrounded by a dazzling halo that almost blinded me. Was this the face that launched a thousand Oriental ships? Was she the person who wrote “Pakistan – a Fortress with a Thousand Doors” (a German book not yet available to readers of English or Urdu). As she walked me in and we sat down I, a puny diplomat, had been undone by her aura. The eyes of all her tiny cats in the glass case next to my chair suddenly illuminated. The Allama Iqbal idea lit up. After exchange of courtesies and some discussion of the contemporary significance of Allama Iqbal for the West and the East (during which I confessed to her that in Pakistan, the Allama’s work had largely been left to ‘qawwals’ and crooners, and she consoled me saying that in her Germany, children passed through their high school without reading any Goethe), I floated the idea of a European clearing house for Allama Iqbal’s work and thought. She agreed that such a platform was necessary. Next, I requested her for contact addresses of various Iqbal scholars in Europe known to her. She obliged, and after a brief silence, stopped breathing, and with eyes closed, rattled off, one by one, the names, addresses and phone numbers of people in Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Spain, Poland, Romania, Italy, and, and. After every ‘entry’ she would take a breath and open her eyes; only to shut them again as she trawled the 125-terabyte ‘hard disk’ in her brain. I struggled to note down the information at the pace her ‘computer’ threw these up. Two hours later, sated by the cups of tea Schimmel herself had prepared, overflowing with Iqbal info and overwhelmed by her encouragement, I walked out of her ground floor flat. In the two hour train journey back to Brussels, I felt that I was not the same person who took the Bonn train that morning. The Allama Iqbal idea had begun to take a shape.
Belgium of the late 1980s did not have much of a Pakistani community. But there two gentlemen – Shafiq Naz, a Management Consultant (who later founded the Alhamra Publications in Islamabad), and Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, an officer of our Customs Service on deputation with the Brussels-based International Customs Council, who lent their whole-hearted support to the Allama Iqbal idea and greatly helped in turning it into a project through several brainstorming sessions. These sessions were joined in by some Pakistani house guests of any of us three, with an occasional Belgian-Pakistani bringing his/her words of praise and sympathy. I felt that all such people knew a tiny something about Allama Iqbal, and after each meeting, hastened to get hold of some Iqbal work to read. Many ordered Allama Iqbal books to be air-freighted from Pakistan. The word was indeed spreading. The ground reality hit me hard when one day rummaging through the card catalogue of books at Belgium’s National Library, I found that the latest book on Pakistan they carried was purchased in 1961. Less than a year later, I went again to the Library, this time armed with two cartons of books sent as gift from Islamabad. The local community library where I lived in Brussels carried just one book on Pakistan; this one by Sir Zafarullah Khan, titled ‘The Agony of Pakistan’.
In early 1988, our daily mail in the Embassy included a brochure on Maurice Careme Foundation. Based in Brussels, the organization was meant to promote the poetry of the Francophone Belgian poet Maurice Careme (1899-1978) on a world scale. My brimming head latched on to this document and thus was born the project of the Iqbal Foundation Europe. Europe was tagged into the title because Brussels was shaping up as the capital of a gathering Europe. England, France and Germany, the three biggies of Europe, each with an area of influence on the continent,
I thought were not suitable to host our European NGO. Belgium was the neutral ground which could host this platform if it was to command a continental, indeed worldwide, recognition. England was not suitable as it contained a very large and factious Pakistani community which could hinder its Europe-wide activities, while France and Germany, despite their growing cooperation and collaboration, remained in contention for the soul of Europe. So the oasis of Brussels was thought to be the best suited to host the Foundation.
Soon after my return from the Schimmel meeting, I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Saeed Akhtar Durrani, a distinguished Physicist of Pakistani origin who was Professor at Birmingham University. He was in Brussels to attend a three day science conference. We somehow ran into each other, probably in my office at the Embassy. That was the beginning of a warm friendship in which I learnt so much from this energetic and enthusiastic Iqbalist who has been brilliantly leading the Iqbal Academy UK for some decades now. He spent the next two days as my house guest. We had long discussions on the Allama Iqbal idea and the Foundation project. Not only did he offer to collaborate in the project, he admired my achievement of getting assurances of Prof Schimmel’s support and proposed that we get her to accept to head the Foundation.
It was time now to draw up a list of Belgian professors/scholars who could be interested in Allama Iqbal and Pakistan Studies. A tough ask. Pakistan did not figure on the scholarship map of Europe. Urdu was the national language of a fledgling state. It was mainly spoken in the Republic of India where it was struggling for survival after more than a century-old Hindi-Urdu controversy that had permeated the Pakistan Movement and soured Hindu-Muslim relations in the sub-continent. Arabic, Persian and Turkish were taught at Oriental faculties of some Belgian universities. Upon learning that the University of Liege once offered an Urdu language programme, I visited the University. I was told that the programme was shut down in the 1970s upon passing away of the Professor who had set it up. I was shown the sizeable collection of Urdu books still held in their Library; a bizarre experience for me as here I witnessed the debris of a European cultural site that related to Pakistan – books that nobody at Liege could read.
As I kept my enquiry going, I learnt of Prof. Urbain Vermeulen, an Islamologist at University of Ghent. I was delighted to visit him as he had once visited Pakistan and was somewhat familiar with Allama Iqbal as a modern Muslim thinker. He agreed to be associated with the Iqbal Foundation project and also gave me few more contacts. One of them being Prof. Robert Anciaux, a Turkish language expert at the francophone Free University of Brussels. I had a good meeting with Anciaux in his university office. He too was aware of Iqbal and had some fleeting association with Pakistan and was agreeable to work with me. Then I visited Prof. Winand Callewaert of the Flemish language Catholic University of Leuven, who was an Indologist and regularly visited India but had never been to Pakistan. He spoke fluent Hindi and thus was familiar with Urdu language and literature. His specialization was in the Bhakti literature. We immediately took to each other. I also visited the Oriental Studies Department of the francophone Catholic University of Louvain, located some 25 km from its Flemish sibling. (Belgium suffers from a lethal language divide with unending disputation between its prosperous Dutch speaking northern half – once the great Dutchy of Flanders which had fallen into misery, and the French speaking southern half, Wallonia, which once enjoyed great riches and cultural influence in the shadow of Imperial France but was now reduced to living on handouts from the far richer Flemish half of the country. The Catholic University of Leuven being located in Flanders was a sore point with the francophone community who decided to build their own Catholic University of Louvain. Thus this very impressive new university came up which was inaugurated by the Pope himself in 1969.
I was aware that I was in a virtual minefield. Clearly there was no Urdu/Pakistan expertise in academic Belgium. I had met two Islamologists, one with expertise in Arabic and the other worked in Turkish language. The third one was an Indologist who was a Hindi/ Sanskrit specialist. While I had been able to persuade them all to work on my project, I was acutely aware of the gaps that needed to be filled. By whom? I was to be the first filler of the blanks. I had to have a deep reservoir of self belief and faith in my mission, for which I had received no training or mandate. In hindsight, one great incentive for me was that I faced no opposition. To my luck, everyone I met had appreciated my idea/project and encouraged me. Let me quote a few lines from a letter I wrote to Dr. S. A. Durrani on 1 June 1990: “ Prof Winand Callewaert called me in office this morning to narrate what he called a frightening dream he had the night before. Five angry Pakistanis, all of the Embassy of Pakistan, Brussels, called at his house and seemed angry with him. Callewaert could not recall what the five were mad about. He was scared and woke up from his sleep, perspiring around his (Sanskrit-stiff) temples. He said he took the first opportunity to call me and felt sure he would find me in office. Before hanging up five minutes later, he said he felt better and had gotten over the dream”. Here is an account of the trauma of an Indologist’s mind; the pain that gripped him deep inside as he reconciled with reality and conceded space to Pakistan. Callewaert went on to become the first Secretary of the Foundation and devoted time and effort to see the project succeed. In the same letter I reported on some more conversations with Prof Winand Callewaert where I found him to be all excited about the Iqbal Foundation which he thought could look beyond the seven books of Allama Iqbal and serve as an academic forum for Pakistan in Europe.
Several meetings ensued – over lunches at my home or in university eateries, with one or two or rarely all three of these academics coming together with Shafiq Naz and Dr. Manzoor in attendance. Sometime Dr. S.A. Durrani too would travel all the way from Birmingham to join in these gatherings of the midwives. Occasionally I would produce minutes of these meeting for circulation including a copy for Prof. Annemarie Schimmel, who would always acknowledge receipt together with words of encouragement. Draft document was drawn up to get the Foundation registered in Belgium as a not-for-profit academic organization. Initial reaction from the Belgian Ministry of Justice was discouraging. Prof Anciaux once reported that the Belgian authorities were wary of allowing a Muslim platform, and once returned the papers asking for a certificate that the Foundation would be a non-political body. While rummaging through my Foundation papers I came across minutes of such a meeting where the participants were reported to be in low spirit as no source of funding had been identified to raise the sum of Belgian
Francs 20,000 required as registration fee and attorney costs, and where Dr. Durrani had put $ 20 on the table as his contribution followed by BF 150 (about five US dollars) given by Dr. Manzoor. I could not spare this small change. This is why the Chinese saying that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a few small steps.
We all agreed on establishing an Iqbal Research Centre at the Dutch language Catholic University of Leuven with Prof Winand Callewaert as Coordinator. In order to promote research about Iqbal and the cultural and religious environment in which he flourished and produced his visionary poetry, the Library would aim to bring together:
A. all the publications of Iqbal and their translations in European languages;
B. all the books and articles about Iqbal in European languages;
C. selective material for allied areas like post 1857 religious and political developments in the subcontinent, Islamic Thought in Pakistan, Urdu and Indo-Persian literature.
It is worth mentioning here that Prof. Schimmel had offered to donate all her books on these subjects to this Iqbal Reference Library. The Iqbal Centre’s other project would be to produce a descriptive bibliography of works relating to Allama Iqbal. It was felt that so much had been published about Iqbal that a comprehensive bibliography was urgently needed. This publication was a necessary research tool to make further studies on Iqbal possible. Every two years, an updated supplement was to be brought out. Prof. Callewaert once told me that publications on Allama Iqbal in the West far outnumbered all that had been written on the entire body of Urdu literature.
At my suggestion, in early 1989, the untiring Prof. Winand Callewaert, quickly produced a Dutch translation of Prof. Schimmel’s German language book “Iqbal; Prophetic Poet and Philosopher”, which was published before the year was out. To get Prof. Schimmel’s permission, and blessing, he and I once travelled to Bonn, and spent a couple of hours at her house. She was more than happy to give the necessary permission and gave Callewaert some parameters for his translation. She also agreed to travel to Leuven in early January of 1990 to preside over the book launch ceremony. Before returning to Brussels, Prof. Callewaert gave me a memorable guided tour of the house of Beethoven, the master German music composer, also located in Bonn.
Here I must share with you the opening paragraph of Prof. Schimmel’s address at the book launch. When called upon to speak after the speeches of Prof. Callewaert, Dr. Durrani, Prof. Hasan Askari Rizvi (then the Iqbal scholar at Heidelberg University) and our Ambassador Munir Akram, Prof. Schimmel went up to the podium, closed her eyes, stopped breathing for a few seconds (a period which felt much longer to us all in the audience) and then her mellifluous voice pierced the cold silence of the Gothic hall of the Catholic University of Leuven: “In the early 1960’s, a Pakistani hockey team came to Germany and the first thing they asked after landing in Frankfurt was to see the Goethe House because the name of Goethe was known to them as he was one of the two great figures to inspire Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan. I sometimes ask myself if a German hockey team came to Lahore would go immediately to the mausoleum of Iqbal that is located so beautifully on the steps of Badshahi mosque. I do not think that would happen. And yet they would have every reason to do so; because among all the Islamic modernists, Iqbal seems to be the only one who was able to form a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures and civilizations”. It gave me great pleasure later to transcribe her speech from an audio recording, which I sent to the Pakistan Times daily, which carried it in two parts on 21 and 22 April 1990.
At another level, while doing my routine duties as Head of Chancery, I had started burning the midnight oil, to address letters to all the Iqbal scholars identified by Prof. Schimmel. I was fortunate to have acquired just then my first PC, a desk-top version of now defunct British brand Amstrad as well as a dot matrix printer. This machine immensely facilitated my task of corresponding with people all over Europe. A side effect, though entirely unintended, was that I got sucked into the cyber world for which I caught a consuming passion that led a few years later to my posting as Pakistan’s first and only IT Ambassador based in the Silicon Valley, California. The project was scuttled within months. Some day I would narrate the story of this passion and the project. By the end of summer of 1990, I had received enough responses to be able to summarize them for circulation in the form of the first Newsletter of the Foundation. Signed by Prof Callewaert as Secretary of the Iqbal Foundation, the five page Newsletter carried the addresses and phone numbers of all persons and institutions approached, said that its purpose was “to bring about contacts between the persons and institutions that have shown readiness and interest to work for the goals defined by the Foundation”. Prof. Callewaert also solicited “more names of persons and institutions interested in promoting the knowledge about Iqbal and his cultural background, by research, publications and seminars” and “information regarding publications about Iqbal in your country and language area”.
Some of the responses are summarized below to give you the flavour of work, passion and scope for Iqbal work in Europe. Prof. Aubert Martin, Department of Oriental History and Literature, University of Liege; “Teaches Islamic Philosophy at Liege and Brussels; specializes in what Islamic civilization gave to the West; showed keen interest in the work of the Foundation”.
Prof. John Michot, Head, Department of Arabic Philosophy, Catholic University of Louvain (francophone); “Expressed keen interest in collaborating with the Foundation”.
Prof. Jes P. Asmussen, Copenhagen; “Replied promptly from his holiday residence, saying “Muhammad Iqbal is much treasured in Denmark, but there are no serious studies yet. This, however, can be changed”.
Madame Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch, Paris (who translated the entire work of Rumi – poetry, prose and letters- into French, the only western language which carries all of Rumi; besides she had published thereof Iqbal’s books in French); “Agreed to consider producing a 200-page French language anthology of Iqbal’s poetry as well as a 130-page popular selection for non-specialist readers of French poetry”.
Ms. Suzanne Bussac of France (Translated Iqbal’s Baal-i-Jibril in French); “Offered to do more work on Iqbal whom she considered to be an important bridge between East and the West”.
Mr. Mohsen Slim, International Law expert in Paris: “Gave a prompt and enthusiastic response saying, ’There is no doubt that a personality like Muhammad Iqbal deserves to be honoured and his memory commemorated. To establish the Iqbal Foundation is an excellent idea, especially at this particular moment the world is witnessing, when East and the West need more than ever to dialogue and become acquainted in depth”.
Prof. Vito Salierno, Milan (with deep knowledge of Urdu he acquired working as Italian Cultural Counsellor at their Embassy in Karachi in the 1950s and has rendered the full text of Baang-e-Dara into Italian only the second European language after English to carry this full text); “Sent an enthusiastic reply welcoming the establishment of the Foundation and accepting to collaborate. He regretted that, unfortunately, nobody in Italy was carrying on the great work done by Prof. Alessandro Bausani” (who had translated the Javed Nama in Italian with the addition of copious notes and carried out its detailed comparative study with Dante’s Divine Comedy).
Prof. Krzysztof Byrski, Department of Indology, University of Warsaw, Poland; said, “If there are possibilities to acquire source material on Iqbal (his works) I should declare our deep interest in such acquisition”.
Prof. Bengt Knutsson, Director, Programme for ME and North African Studies, University of Lund, Sweden; “He wrote that (after receiving my letter) a small committee was formed with himself, Ambassador Gunnar Jarring – who had contributed an article on Iqbal in a Swedish literary encyclopedia, and Prof. Jan Hjarpe – the only person in Sweden to hold an academic chair in Islamology. They nominated Mrs. Sigrid Kahle to be the contact person for the Iqbal Foundation in Europe.” A letter of acceptance of Mrs. Kahle was also attached with Prof. Knutsson’s letter in which he finally wished the project “the very best success”.
Mrs. Sigrid Kahle, President, Sweden-Pakistan Friendship Association, Stockholm, in a separate letter written later, said, “I am well acquainted with the philosophy of Dr. Iqbal since the 1950s when I spent five years in Karachi. At that time I had the pleasure of meeting Annemarie Schimmel who was then on her first trip to Pakistan. She also knew my father Prof. H.S. Nyberg and my father-in-law Prof Paul E. Kahle. My husband John Kahle, who was then (serving) at the German Embassy, met Dr. Javed Iqbal several times. I have often talked about Maulana Iqbal and mentioned him in my articles about Islam, though I have never yet written anything independent about him. Naturally I shall be very pleased to help making his philosophy known in Europe – it is more necessary than ever. The pleasure is so much greater since I can collaborate with Prof. Schimmel. I plan a book about Iqbal in Swedish, and a Seminar in 1991”.
Prof. Gilbert Etienne, Geneva, Switzerland (whose French language ‘Pakistan – Gift of the Indus’, had come out in 1988); said, “I would, no doubt, be honoured to join your Foundation, but, though I have read on Iqbal, I am unfortunately, not of much use for your activities”. With reference to the Foundation, he said, “it is of particular importance, as rightly mentioned in (Bibliography Project notice) that the (Iqbal Research) Library should not be confined to Iqbal only, but to publications on general problems of the subcontinent at the time of Iqbal”.
Prof. Ralph Russell, the foremost British expert of Urdu; in his reply said, “I am pleased to hear of the efforts you have been making to arouse interest in Urdu in Belgium. The information you sent me about the proposed Iqbal Research Centre sounds very impressive and Annemarie Schimmel is certainly a very appropriate person to be associated with it”. He went on to inform that he had contributed a chapter on Iqbal and his message in a select history of Urdu literature to be published in London. He went on to caution that, “I must tell you plainly that along with a recognition of Iqbal’s greatness and importance, I have many adverse criticisms to make of him. I know that many Pakistanis find this unwelcome”.
In the summer of 1990 I took a few days off work and drove off, with my wife and two sons, to Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. In Prague, I visited the legendary Prof Jan Marek, Professor of Urdu and Persian at Charles University, one of the oldest seats of higher learning on the continent. He contributed a significant research article in the Journal of the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences in which proposed 9 November 1877 as the definitive date of birth of Allama Iqbal which was officially accepted in Pakistan. To coincide with my visit and that of Dr.Durrani, Prof. Marek had organized a seminar on 31 July 1990 at his Oriental Institute to meet the representatives of Iqbal Foundation Europe. Dr. Gopi Chand Narang, Head of Delhi University’s Urdu Department was also there. It turned out to be an exciting event, where I heard Dr. Narang say that while Iqbal had undergone ‘holification’ in Pakistan based on his later work, in India he was sung, read and remembered as a patriot based on his earlier poetry. When asked about what they made of Iqbal’s recurring Islamic themes, he likened it to listening to Mozart’s enduring pieces of classical music while not being aware of their Christian content. Great art, he held, transcended religious and political boundaries. After the seminar, Prof. Marek gave us a tour of the very impressive Urdu library of the Oriental Institute, which too, sadly was not in use as Czech students were no longer interested in Urdu studies, which Marek attributed to the flip-flop policy of Pakistan which had twice closed down its Embassy in Prague and paid little attention to promoting its culture in this historic capital city of Central Europe.
Prof. Marek wrote me a couple of letters in connection with the establishment of the Iqbal Foundation which he signed as ‘Yahya Khan’. On being asked the reason, he once wrote, “Yahya is a mere translation of my Christian name – John the Baptist/you know that other John – the Evangelist, is called Yohanna in Islam. Khan is a jocular addition, as the Frontier people used to call me so, perhaps because I wore a karakuli Jinnah cap. Once a bus conductor in Peshawar named me that way asking to whom he should give back a few paisas (change of the bus fare).The bus passengers pointed to the rear where I was standing and said, “Peechay koi khan khara hai”, and the conductor shouted loudly “Aray khan, yeh tumhara 15 paisa lay lo”. Annemarie Schimmel liked this story and started to call me Yahya Khan or Bhai Yahya. And since I feel you have come close to me, I dared to use this expression in a letter to you also”.
I found another centre of encouragement and support in Moscow – Dr. Natalia Prigarina of the Oriental Study Section of USSR Academy of Sciences, who was particularly excited about the Iqbal Foundation idea because it was to be headed by the great Annemarie Schimmel. She wrote in a letter that, “It is a privilege for me to participate in Iqbal foundation. It is a very noble purpose to unite Iqbal’s students and to create a perspective of mutual scientific and personal contacts between them. The list of the participants of Iqbal Foundation (as carried in the First Newsletter) impressed me very much because I have found there not only my good friends and colleagues whom I know personally, there are so many names which I know from books, articles and translations. The list is very useful as it is, one can learn many interesting details on Iqbal studies in Europe from it……I hope that you would be successful in creating a really working Foundation and unite all enthusiasts of Iqbal studies”.
In another letter, Dr. Prigarina wrote, “I surely can inform you about all important centres of Iqbal studies in USSR and all more or less interesting publications in the field from 1957 up to the present time including references in the special and common works on Literature, History, Philosophy, Islamic Studies and Political Science in Russian, Tajik, Uzbek languages”. She went on to add, “It might be of interest for you that the first European scholar to mention Iqbal as a thinker was the well known Russian Orientalist Prof. A. Krymsky (1871-1942) who wrote about Iqbal’s Development of Metaphysics in Persia in 1911. In his book ‘The History of Persian Literature and its Dervishean Theosophy’, Krymsky cited that Dr. Iqbal “is a European educated scholar and a doctor of Philosophy of the University of Munich”. Describing her own interest in Iqbal, she added, “My studies are mainly concerned with Iqbal’s Persian poetry as well as Urdu poetry of the period, 1900-1927. Next is the problem of the Perfect Man in the light of different traditions and the problem of Iqbal’s place in world literature of the Twentieth century”.
In November 1991, at the end of my term at Brussels I headed back to Islamabad. The Iqbal Foundation had not been registered nor was the Iqbal Research Centre set up. In reply to my letter taking his leave, Prof Marek wrote, “I deeply regret you are leaving Belgium and returning to Islamabad. Europe will miss you and your unfinished work on Allama Iqbal too”.
Postscript: Some years later Prof Annemarie Schimmel visited Islamabad and mentioned the idea and project of the Foundation in her meeting with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A directive was sent to the Ambassador in Brussels to revive the project. In their consecutive terms, Ambassadors Rafat Mehdi and Riaz Mohammad Khan worked to get the Iqbal Foundation Europe registered and organized an International Conference at the Belgian University of Ghent. The brave Fakhar Zaman visited Brussels in 1995 as Chairman of the National Commission on History and Culture, met with the office bearers of the Foundation and announced a grant of $ 20,000 for the Bibliography project. The work was speedily completed by Prof. Callewaert and published by the famous Belgian publisher Peeters. Thereafter the Foundation went moribund with the final nail in the coffin being the sad passing away of its President Prof. Annemarie Schimmel in 2003. Dr. Saeed Akhtar Durrani kept reminding me to find a way to revive it and find a replacement President. Being the senior most Iqbalist in Europe, Prof Jan Marek was approached, who regretted citing his health and old age. Prof Vito Salierno of Milan as the next senior European, fortunately agreed. To his credit, Mr. Fakhar Zaman again came to the rescue of the Foundation in mid 2010 and guided me to make the proposal which he would support. The Prime Minister was pleased to approve Prof Salierno as the next President of the Foundation together with a not insignificant annual grant. A ‘rejuvenation’ event was planned in Brussels for Iqbal Day but had to be cancelled because of the havoc caused by the massive summer floods in Pakistan. So that’s that. The fault, dear Iqbal, lies not in ourselves, but in our stars, that we underlings!